Monday, March 25, 2013

3 Ozark fly fishing blogs. 1 River. Look out...

Rewind back to the 1st fishing trip of the year. Plans were made to spend 3 days on the White River to chase big brown trout on streamers for the opening day festivities on the Catch and Release area below Bull Shoals Dam. It was meant to be a trip of epic proportions. We had 3 drift boats, 9 accomplished anglers, and a whole lot of big nasty flies to chuck at those White River browns. Well, things just weren't meant to be for me on this fishing trip. On Thursday morning, there was cause for concern that I wouldn't even get to go and would have to send my drift boat with Crik so the guys could fish. Luckily, my wife came through for me and I was able to leave with the boys on Thurs night but there was a strong possibility that I would have to come home on Friday evening. This fear became a reality about 2:30 pm somewhere between White Hole and Wildcat Shoals on the White River. We finished the float (with no fish) and I packed up my gear to head for home. I left my boat and camera gear with the boys in hopes that things would fair better for them.

Now over the course of the next couple of weeks, to say that I wanted to go fishing was a major understatement. I was dying to get back out in the boat and throw big flies in hopes that a tug would result in a big brown. Luckily, I got a weekend scheduled in to do some fishing and started to lay plans out for my return. Well, the rest of the crew wasn't gonna be able to make the trip this time so I had to call an audible. After a few text messages, I had made some plans with streamer geek and fellow Ozark fly fishing blog nerd, Brian Wise of Fly Fishing The Ozarks to do some streamer fishing on the NFOW (North Fork of White River). Bingo! Then, the week of the trip, fellow CTD member Crik sends me a text and says that he's in for some streamer fishing. Brilliant! The same day, we became part of one of the most epic Facebook group messages that the interwebs had ever seen. Matt Tucker of The Ozark Chronicles had gotten wind of this proposed meat chuckin' trip to his favorite river, he wanted in. There we were, 3 of the fishiest Ozark based fly fishing blogs, hashing out plans for fishing (and shenanigans) for the upcoming weekend.  Talks of flies, floats, how hot Chris' fiance is, and how much I really hate cats were discussed...

Fast forward to Friday evening, Crik and I were on the road with the truck and drift boat headed east on Hwy 412 for Mountain Home, Arkansas where we would make base camp at the RRI (River Rock Inn). To our surprise, we were met with snow not far outside of Tulsa and drove through it for the entire journey to Mountain Home. The forecast was calling for snow throughout the night and into the next morning...epic streamer conditions? Yes sir!





The next morning, we woke to below freezing temps and light snow still falling from the skies. The normal morning routine of checking flows, weather forecasts, and trying to dispose of the previous nights greasy dinner choice into the hotel throne was executed before we jumped in the truck to head for River of Life Farm just outside of Dora, Missouri on the NFOW. Tucker, being the hard ass he is, got up at like 2:30 in the morning and drove down with Dan Ritter and his dad with his Hyde in tow with the plan to meet us at the NFOW. Well, turns out, Tucker is also an over-achiever and we arrived at ROLF a few minutes early to find them already with boat in the water and rods rigged, ready to fish! So Crik and I hurriedly geared up and dumped the skiff into the river. Now, just a quick update on what our plan was. After dumping the boats in the river, Tucker and I would shuttle our vehicles down to Sunburst Ranch where we would jump in with Wise and drive back to the put in. Well, I'm pretty sure Tucker and I set the land speed record for 2 vehicles w/ drift boat trailers as we took the "back way" out from ROLF to the highway. At some point, the theme from "Speed Racer" began to echo inside my head as we sped down the dirt roads to Sunburst Ranch. I must say, Tucker can hold his own on a back road with trailer attached but I was almost able to run the ol' Shake n' Bake on him a few times. Sorry Tucker...you were out-classed and never had a chance...

Anyways, we made the shuttle, jumped in the Wise's go-kart, and sped back to ROLF to get on the river so we could start chuckin' the chicken at some brown trout faces. Or so we thought. Tucker got on the river first as Crik and I waited on Wise to get geared up and gather up half his car to take with him on the float. Now, Crik and I had planned a surprise for the boys. There had been talks on our epic Facebook group message of someone needing to get a costume or two so we could wear them on the float. Crik was unable to find the particular costumes that were discussed but he was able to walk away with a Jack Sparrow pirate hat (Wise), an Indian head dress (Crik), and a Viking helmet (Me). We decided it was time to break out the party favors on the boys. If you have never seen a Pirate, Indian, and a Viking in a drift boat...you're missing out. It was straight comedy...



It was business as usual after we got on the water. We were armed with 8wts, sinking lines, and BFFs (Big F*cking Flies). We all took our shots at all the sexy banks, ripping streamers back to the boat, and hoping that next tug would be a big nasty brown trout. Well, the fishing just wasn't there for us. We had a few half-hearted tugs and I landed a decent kentucky bass on a big streamer. Weird? In Tuckers boat, their luck was a little better as Tucker's old man stuck some stocker browns and then Dan stuck a nice brown on a black hog snare. I would like to interject at this point that we had fish Tucker's sloppy seconds all morning as they hogged all the virgin water ahead of us. Real dick move Tucker. On the bright side, we had a blast floating and BSin' our way down the river. Some interesting things happened to us, I broke my 8wt about halfway down on the float...total freak deal. Then we had the tree incident. Crik hung his fly in a tree on his back cast. Total head in rectum moment but whatever. We row back up to fetch his fly. I'm still not sure exactly how it all happened but at some point Crik thought it was a good idea to stand up in the rear seat of the boat to get his fly. This resulted in an immediate loss of balance as the seat rotated around on him and he began to fall. In his panic of falling, he grabbed the nearest limb which could of qualified for a freaking tree and brought the whole motherlover down on us in the boat. I'm not sure how someone didn't get major head trauma or at least a rod get broken but we all survived. After clearing the boat of the tree, we were able to retrieve the fly and proceed on down the river where we arrived at Sunburst Ranch where Justin Spencer had a fire going on the shore for us...



Now this is where the real shenanigans went down. You have probably already seen our Harlem Shake video on Facebook and I posted it to the blog just the other day for the interwebs to see. I guess at some point, Justin and Tucker decided the previous week that we needed to film a fly fishing version of this viral YouTube video. Wise's wife and kids showed up with Justin's family...with them came some costumes and the music for the video. Then at some point, Justin went back up to the barn and came back with a freaking rooster. Crik was soon voted to be the roosters handler for the video. Indeed. I'm still in awe that we threw this whole ridiculous thing together and made it look awesome on video. We had chicken costumes, a pickle costume, our pirate became an ass pirate, and one of the boys looked like a psychotic Ronald McDonald. Dan and Tucker's dad didn't know what to think. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. It was awesome...




Afterwards, we loaded the boats up and headed downstream to Patrick bridge to dump the boats for our 2nd float of the day. Due to the high flows, we couldn't get under any of the low water bridges on the river so we had to shuttle around them. The plan was to float from Patrick Bridge down to Justin's new riverside property called The Landing. It's a nice short float with some awesome streamer water and tons of brown trout as the MDC (Missouri Dept of Conservation) stocks regularly in the lower sections of the river. The sun had came out so we switched up presentations in hopes of enticing some of the stocker and hold over browns into eating one of our bugs. Once again, Tucker shoved off first and led the way (another dick move BTW) down the river as we banged away at all the sweet banks in the section. Fishing was a little better for us on this section. We picked up a few decent brown trout and missed several fish along the way. There was plenty of good BS flying back and forth between the boats as well which always makes for an interesting float.



Overall, it was a freaking great day on the water with a good crew of guys. Very cool to get 3 major Ozark based fly fishing blog crews together to do a little fishing. Also got to pick Wise's brain about the NFOW and learned a few new things about fishing this river. I must say, I'm quickly starting to prefer this river over our fabled tailwaters in Arkansas. Its such a beautiful river and a unique fishery as far as the Ozarks go. We actually returned to the NFOW a few weeks later and got into some really good streamer fishing but more on that story later.

I did do some filming on this trip but it was only with the GoPro. I had to leave the DSLR at home with the wife since technically it is her camera. So I didn't have very much footage to work with to begin with. Then on top of that, I had the GoPro set up wrong to work with the DIY UV filter that we made for the GoPro so you can see the lens cover in all the footage. I apologize for this but I hate to waste footage so here is a quick smasher of the footage from the day's trip! Enjoy...



Would also like to think Justin and Amy at Sunburst Ranch for the fire, free pizza, and shuttles on Saturday. You guys are awesome!!

Also, thanks from Matt Tucker for some of the photos...totally jacked them from your FB page dude...

2 comments:

  1. sounds like a great trip man, i have always wanted to fish the NFOW and Brian Wise seems to be a great guide to fish that river with.

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